Provo Provokes


Het Lieverdje The first issue of PROVO (Amsterdam, 12 July 1965) featured traditional anarchist ideology and recipes for homemade dynamite and other explosives. Provo was an anarchist youth movement in Amsterdam that provoked lawful authorities, the monarchy, and 'the mindless masses' in a playful and imaginative way. PROVO nr. 1 was confiscated instantly as a 'seditious broadsheet'. This was the first in a series of Provo confrontations with the authorities.

In the streets Provo staged midnight and Saturday happenings near the sculpture 'Het Lieverdje' in the center of Amsterdam.
Internationally, Provo became widely known for protesting the monarchy: they threw some of the smoke bombs on the wedding day of princess Beatrix and Claus von Amsberg.
Provo invented various kinds of 'White Plans' such as the well known White Bicycle Plan. Many of these plans reflect a concern for a healthy environment and aim at making private property public.
Provo's active participation in Amsterdam municipal politics was motivated by the desire to introduce their white plans officially. Although they did not succeed, the Provo 'white concepts' as such were widely imitated, even in the world of advertising. Provo became a kind of institution, which was the reason why the movement disbanded itself officially in May 1967.

A dozen souvenirs of Provo from the IISH Image and Sound collections, the archives of Provo, individual provos and local initiatives. The Institute also has many other photos, including those by famous photographers such as Cor Jaring, Koen Wessing, and Ab Pruis.

Further reading
To read more about Provo, see Niek Pas, Imaazje! De verbeelding van Provo 1965-1967 (Amsterdam 2003).
Text: Margreet Schrevel